Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.

Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:

Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view

whats new at ieet

Hughes, Prisco, Goertzel @ Modern Cosmism Conference

Automation and Income Inequality: Understanding the Polarisation Effect

Big Red Earth Rises: a Novel NGO for Sustainable Development in Madagascar

Life, Death and Palliative Care

Vita-More @ Alcor Conference

Roux on H+ & Cyborgization @ “Transformed Body” (“Le Corps Transformé”)

ieet books

Surviving AI: The promise and peril of artificial intelligence
Calum Chace


g3reth on 'Mindfulness-Based Therapy – Examining the Studies (Part 2)' (Oct 9, 2015)

g3reth on 'Mindfulness-Based Therapy – Does it Work? (Summary, Part 3)' (Oct 8, 2015)

DonaldFleck on 'Mindfulness-Based Therapy – Examining the Studies (Part 2)' (Oct 8, 2015)

michaelis on 'Consciousness is a Mathematical Pattern' (Oct 8, 2015)

spud100 on 'Digital Immortality Map: Reconstruction of the Personality Based on its Information Traces' (Oct 8, 2015)

AlonzoTG on 'Digital Immortality Map: Reconstruction of the Personality Based on its Information Traces' (Oct 7, 2015)

Valkyrie Ice on 'Technoprogressive Declaration - Transvision 2014' (Oct 7, 2015)

Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List


Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month

Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever
Sep 29, 2015
(122927) Hits
(4) Comments

The price of the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world
Sep 25, 2015
(29629) Hits
(3) Comments

This Artificially Intelligent Boss Means the Workplace Will Never Be the Same
Sep 18, 2015
(16735) Hits
(1) Comments

Religion and Superintelligence
Sep 12, 2015
(8579) Hits
(0) Comments

IEET > Vision > Futurism > Fellows > Jamais Cascio

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (4001) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Jamais Cascio
By Jamais Cascio
Open the Future

Posted: Jun 1, 2008

I’ve long been a fan of the use of games and sims as a way of working through future-facing issues. The big advantage of games as a foresight device is the capacity to fail in interesting ways: you can try out different, even bizarre, strategies for success, and do so without worry of harming yourself or others. It’s a form of rehearsal,  a way to understand the ways in which the present may be manipulated to create a desirable tomorrow.

Three interesting examples of simulations as rehearsal popped up on my radar recently.


Triplepundit brings word of “Oil ShockWave,” an oil crisis simulation coming from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Based on a project done to educate policymakers, versions of Oil Shockwave have been run at the 2006 World Economic Forum and at the 2007 Aspen Strategy Group conference—that is, by big-time establishment players.

This version is aimed at college instructors:

In the classroom version of Oil ShockWave, students play the roles of U.S. Cabinet members developing a policy response to a potentially devastating crisis that affects global oil supplies. Situations are presented primarily through pre-produced newscasts, video briefings and insert cards handed to the students during discussion. The exercise vividly illustrates the links between oil, the economy, and national security.

The box set, called Oil ShockWave™ College Curriculum, contains maps, multimedia components, simulated newscasts, a range of background materials, and an instructor’s manual.

And by “aimed at,” I mean “only available to.” Unfortunately, by all appearances, Oil Shockwave is only open to universities. I think Belfer Center is really missing out on a significant opportunity to educate larger communities about the dilemmas associated with resource collapse.


While “Oil Shockwave” is an interactive, immersive simulation, “Immune Attack,” from the Federation of American Scientists, is a video game abstraction of how the immune system works. It’s aimed at high school students, but is available to Windows users wishing to download the app. Players navigate a nanobot through a patient’s bloodstream and connective tissues, trying to re-educate the immune system.

The FAS claims that playing the game increases student understanding of the immune system, but the big risk of this kind of abstraction is that it offers more of a regurgitative than an analytic understanding. Without allowing players to fiddle with the underlying systems, to make unexpected choices and see the results, it wouldn’t offer any opportunities for significant insights.


The third game on the list is “Budget Hero,” a simulation allowing you—yes, you—to adjust the parameters of the US federal spending, looking for ways to balance the budget while boosting your preferred priorities. Marketplace, the daily public radio economics and finance show, developed and sponsors the game.

Unlike some budget sims that give you nearly line-item control over what’s in and what’s out, Budget Hero limits your options to options that sound like policy proposals—Cap & Limit Greenhouse Gases, Link Alternative Minimum Tax to Inflation, and so forth. You also start with three budget priority badges, reflecting the positions you take as a leader. As you can see in the screen capture, I chose Energy Independence, Health & Wellness, and “Green” (this will come as a surprise to precisely no readers). Other options include National Security, Economic Stimulus, and Safety Net.

Some policy items are conspicuous in their absence. There’s nothing about NASA, for example, nor anything about funding research into specific types of non-fossil fuel energy. And I’m under no illusion that my preferred policies would have a chance of making it through any plausible Congress. Still, it’s good to see that being a DFH, policy-wise, can actually be pretty economically responsible.


Jamais Cascio is a Senior Fellow of the IEET, and a professional futurist. He writes the popular blog Open the Future.
Print Email permalink (0) Comments (4002) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: KMO on Singularity and the End of Oil

Previous entry: The Power Pyramid


RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @     phone: 860-297-2376

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @